– Gameness til the End
March 12, 2013 3:57 pm • PETER JENSEN
The Napa County Board of Supervisors has tweaked the county’s two-year-old ordinance on raising roosters in the unincorporated area by removing a permitting process but keeping the cap on 100 roosters per parcel and 25 per acre.
County planning staff had pushed for a limit of four roosters per parcel last month, but agreed to keep the current cap after poultry raisers objected and said it was too restrictive.
On Tuesday, several of them told the supervisors that the changes to the ordinance represented a good compromise, as it will free up planning staff’s time by dumping the permitting process but will still provide flexibility to legitimate rooster raising operations.
If anyone wants to go over the limits, they’ll have to be involved in 4-H clubs, FFA, public or private schools, or a commercial operation that already has county permits, or be approved as a hobbyist by the Napa County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.
The supervisors approved the changes with a 4-0 vote; Supervisor Bill Dodd was absent.
“We were very pleased in the poultry community that Napa County was willing to maintain this rooster limit,” said Sherry Paukert, a certified poultry health inspector.
Ag Commissioner Dave Whitmer also spoke in favor of the changes.
“We are going to be accommodating to legitimate poultry operations,” Whitmer said. “Agriculture is our way of life here in Napa County and we want to continue that. The Agricultural Commissioner’s Office is going to work with folks to make this the least impactful process.”
Calistoga resident Doug Hayes told the supervisors he raises rare breeds of chickens and roosters on his farm, and said he was concerned the ordinance changes could prevent him from doing this. He said he has hatched “thousands and thousands” of birds, and while he culls them quickly he didn’t want the ordinance to jeopardize his efforts at restoring these rare breeds.
“I don’t want an ordinance that makes it impossible for me to do this,” Hayes said.
Whitmer said the changes won’t make it difficult for Hayes to get an exemption from the Ag Commissioner’s Office.
In approving the changes, Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht said the ordinance is intended to stop illegal cockfighting and public nuisances associated with people raising a large number of roosters.
“It may seem like a small problem, but if it’s in your neighborhood that’s not a small problem,” Wagenknecht said. “We don’t want to discourage new agriculture and restoration of old flocks, but we do want to discourage fighting cocks.”